EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (AP) State officials approved a new $750-million stadium for the New York Giants that should be ready for the 2009 season, a year later than first expected.
Eleven commissioners of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority voted in favor of the stadium plan April 22, while four abstained. The arena is to be built near the existing stadium, which will be razed.
Officials have said taxpayers will not shoulder any additional burden from the deal, which calls for the team to pay the entire cost of construction and to manage the facility, and to keep all profits. In recent days, the agreement, reached after months of contentious negotiations, has come under fire from politicians, including several gubernatorial hopefuls.
“We must resolve not to allow the stadium to ever again become a political football,” John Mara, the Giants’ chief operating officer, and Steven Tisch, a representative of the family that co-owns the team with the Mara family, said in a statement.
The agreement allows the team to build an 80,000-seat stadium in the Meadowlands. The 40-year deal contains options that could extend it to 98 years.
Giants Spokesman Pat Hanlon said the team’s original goal was to have the stadium open by 2008. But because the approval process moved more slowly than expected, he said, “It would be more realistic to think it will be 2009.”
Giants Stadium opened in 1976; the Jets joined the Giants there in 1984. The name of the new stadium will be determined through the sale of naming rights.
“The Giants have been a part of the New Jersey experience for the last three decades,” acting Gov. Richard J. Codey said April 22. “With a new stadium now approved, they will continue to be part of the fabric of our state for future generations to come.”
George Zoffinger, the authority’s executive director, had opposed what he considered overly generous terms of the deal while it was in negotiations — but promised April 22 to make it work.
“While reasonable men can disagree on some points, we look forward to working together in a reasonable manner on completing this plan,” he said.
The Giants will pay $6.3 million a year to New Jersey in rent and taxes. The state is responsible for as much as $30 million in road work and still will be responsible for $124 million in debt that remains on the existing stadium.
Authority chairman Carl Goldberg said the last obstacle to overcome before the stadium can be built is a lease agreement with the team, something he said could be done within 90 days.